by Becky Shu Chen (IoZ, ZSL)
The Darwin Initiative Project entitled “A sustainable future for Chinese giant salamanders” includes a strong Communication, Education and Public Awareness-raising (CEPA) aspect to raise the profile of the Critically Endangered Chinese giant salamander (CGS) – especially in China. In July, two preliminary CEPA campaigns, led by the Project Coordinator Becky Shu Chen, were conducted in Kunming City, China.
One of the campaigns was co-organised by ZSL and Panlong Primary School. A 40-min educational course on CGS biology, ecology, culture, threat and conservation was first given by Shu Chen to 60 students around 9 years’ old in class, and a following CGS knowledge competition was conducted. All the children were very enthusiastic to offer competing answers, and the ones who answered correctly were awarded the project badge as a membership symbol of ‘the little CGS volunteer’. The latter half of this school campaign was called ‘drawing the CGS in your mind’. Students were provided with a paper with CGS’s outline, and they could fill in colors, creatively draw whatever they like and give a name to the cartoon. This campaign was very successful and children’s drawings were scanned to make a CEPA display for the subsequent campaigns.
The other campaign was co-organised by ZSL and Yunnan Science & Technology Museum. The major aim of this campaign was to collect baseline date on public awareness of CGS so that appropriate CEPA materials and large-scale campaigns could be well designed to fulfill people’s interests and bridge the knowledge gaps. Six volunteers participated in this campaign to conduct questionnaire-based surveys towards the public. Simultaneously, to encourage participation of the public into surveys and enhance interaction with kids, volunteers organised children to join the free drawing activity ‘drawing the CGS in your mind’. All the people taking part into this campaign were awarded project balloons, badges and reusable bags (with project contact information).
These campaigns were warmly welcomed by the public in Kunming, and people showed keen interested in joining the future CEPA activities. Similar public surveys would be conducted in Guizhou and Shaanxi Province in parallel by project partners. Comparing CGS awareness among provinces would be interesting and helpful to make strategic plans for CGS CEPA across China.